Mesa-based pop-punk rockers Baseline know how to write a hit song.
Case in point: the single “Garden,” which has received more than 139,000 streams, a respectable number of a fledgling indie band. Lead singer and ASU sophomore Michael Schuster chalks it up to the hook “He gave you a rose, but I plant you a garden.”
“It has a hook and we added a key change, so it was written with a pretty classic money song structure,” he says.
Fans can hear the track when Baseline plays The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix on Friday, January 4.
“Garden” was three years in the making. The five-piece band formed in 2015 and has since been releasing EPs and touring. Its latest EP, For the Sake of Clarity, came out earlier this year.
The EP features songs such as “All in Vain” and “Deep Six.”
“We all have different music tastes and I think you can hear elements from multiple genres in these songs, even if it’s super subtle,” Schuster said. “We also like to write in dark rooms with a few candles lit because we believe it makes us more creative.
“As far as the lyrics go, it’s all about my state of mind. The goal was to confront my personal flaws or things I didn’t like about myself in the writing process and hopefully find clarity. In some ways, I succeeded. In others, I did not.”
Baseline—which also includes guitarist Gianni Jinks, guitarist/vocalist Michael Cully, drummer Gage Heiner and bassist Shawn Sass—released an EP because it’s much less expensive than a full-length album, which can run in the tens of thousands. All of them live in Mesa, except Jinks, who resides in Ahwatukee.
“We will probably put out an LP when somebody else wants to pay for it,” Schuster joked. “We feel like we’re ready to put out an LP eventually, but it’s a big-time financial commitment.”
Being a part of the Valley music scene has been enjoyable and educational for Baseline, Schuster said.
“We’ve watched our friends’ groups spring up,” he said. “It’s really cool seeing people meet each other, become friends and then come to our shows together instead of coming alone.”
Baseline’s musicians have learned from other bands on the scene.
“Each band does something really, really well,” Schuster said. “And so we’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks just being friends with other bands and playing shows with them.
“We barely knew anything when we started. Being friends with other bands allowed us to learn how to do all of the behind-the-scenes things that don’t immediately come to mind. For example, printing merch, creating show fliers, touring smart and networking.”
Schuster says Baseline is constantly evolving. It was founded as Plead the Fifth, but they didn’t care for the moniker. Seeing the Baseline Road sign from a Taco Bell at Val Vista Drive piqued the men’s interest.
Since then, Baseline’s musicians have become adept at writing together. Like couples who finish their spouses’ sentences, the men can guess what each other is going to write about, in terms of format and song structure.
Baseline’s name has worked for them. They are rapidly building their repertoire with tours and thousands of streams on Spotify. Schuster is excited to hear from fans out of town. Although hometown gigs are important, he puts the priority on gigs elsewhere.
“The mystery of the tour is what I really like,” Schuster said. “I never know where I’m going to be by the end of the day.”
if you go
What: Fake a Home w/Baseline, Andy’s Room and Overstay
When: 8 p.m. Friday, January 4
Where: The Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix